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It kills you to even think it. It was the destination that introduced you to Las Vegas as a kid, the destination you visit today to get that “old Vegas” vibe and enjoy low limits. Circus Circus is one of the longest standing resorts on the strip, opening in 1968, and it pains me to say that she is bound to meet the same fate as her notable neighbors.
Circus Circus opened solely as a casino in 1968 and was constructed for $15 million dollars. A hotel was later added to attract guests with deeper pockets financed by a loan from the Teamsters pension fund. Over the decades, Circus Circus has proven a Las Vegas staple, adding hotel towers, an amusement park, merging with neighbor Slots-A-Fun, featuring one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas and even a recently added water park. All good things must end though and our circus themed property is no exception. Hell, they turned the famed Riviera into a parking lot, nothing is sacred. At the end of the day, it is difficult to exist in a poor location on the strip without any surrounding attractions.
Calling out the death of Circus Circus isn’t revolutionary. It’s been identified as a potential victim for some time. She’s old, tired, showing her wear and MGM Resorts hasn’t exactly plugged a ton of dollars into the property. A Motley Fool Article really hit the nail on the head saying it “Simply isn’t worth fixing up at this point. It would cost billions to entirely revamp them, so they’ll keep them up just long enough to squeeze some money out of them until imploding them for a new resort”.
The numbers don’t lie either. According to MGM Resorts 2016 annual report, Circus Circus brought in the lowest EBITDA (Profit) of any of its Las Vegas properties. In 2016, Circus Circus achieved just under $62 million dollars in EBITDA. To an average guy, that feels pretty good but compare that figure to the $479 million Bellagio generated or the $330 million that the MGM Grand brought in and you realize that the aging property may be nearing the end of its useful life. Circus Circus has been MGM’s profitability laggard for some time with no signs of a turnaround.
Implosion may not be imminent as there are still dollars to milk while MGM Resorts gauges the business climate on the north end of the strip. Rumors of Fontainebleau finding a new, engaged owner paired with the resumption of the Resorts World project may have MGM brass dreaming of a new resort to capitalize on a revitalized north end of the Las Vegas Strip.
Check out our piece saying goodbye to the Las Vegas Club – Another Vegas property meeting the wrecking ball.
Access the MGM Resorts Annual Report